Radical Honesty

sam­bear just said “Are you doing that Rad­i­cal Hon­esty stuff these days?” I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.

On the one hand, yes, I have been read­ing that book. And once you get past some of the new-age BS talk, it’s very good. I want to own a copy, maybe more than one so we can eas­i­ly loan them out (I’m read­ing a copy from the library). I think it could do a lot of peo­ple a great deal of good to be much more hon­est with them­selves and every­one else in their lives. I think we’d have a far health­i­er world if every­one were a lot more hon­est. I also know that a lot of peo­ple aren’t ready to even read the book, much less apply its con­tents to their lives.

Odd­ly enough, the pas­sage that is stick­ing with me the most isn’t even by Blan­ton. It’s quot­ed from John Stevens’ book Aware­ness: Explor­ing, Exper­i­ment­ing, Expe­ri­enc­ing.

A great deal has been writ­ten about trust and love, and that if you can build a trust­ing, lov­ing rela­tion­ship, then peo­ple can be hon­est with each oth­er. I believe this idea is exact­ly back­wards. It is very nice if I feel trust­ing and lov­ing toward some­one, but if I don’t feel this way, what can I do about it? Trust and love are my feel­ing respons­es toward anoth­er per­son, and these respons­es can­not be man­u­fac­tured. Either I feel love or I don’t. All the empha­sis on trust and love results in many peo­ple pre­tend­ing to feel trust and love “because it is healthy, and will bring about close­ness, hon­esty, etc.” — adding a new area of phoni­ness and dis­hon­esty in their behavior.

Hon­esty, how­ev­er, is a behav­ior and is some­thing I can choose or not choose. I can­not decide to love or trust, but I can decide to be per­son­al­ly hon­est or not. And when I choose to be real­ly hon­est and say what I expe­ri­ence and what I feel, I am show­ing that I can be trusted.

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This is the only kind of behav­ior that can bring about a response of trust. Trust is my response to a per­son that I know I can believe. Even if I dis­like a per­son, I can trust him if he is hon­est with me, and I can respect his will­ing­ness to be him­self honestly.

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Like­wise, hon­esty does not always bring a response of love, but it is absolute­ly essen­tial to it. When I am hon­est­ly myself, and you respond warm­ly and with car­ing, then love exists. If I cal­cu­late and put on pho­ny behav­ior in order to please you, you may love my behav­ior, but you can­not love me, because I have hid­den my real exis­tence behind this arti­fi­cial behav­ior. Even when you love in response to my pho­ny behav­ior, I can­not real­ly receive your love. It is poi­soned by my knowl­edge that the love is for the image I have cre­at­ed, not for me. I also have to be con­tin­u­al­ly on guard to be sure that I main­tain my image so that your love does not dis­ap­pear. Since I have shut myself off from your love in this way, I will feel more lone­ly and unloved, and try even more des­per­ate­ly to manip­u­late myself and you in order to get this love.

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In con­trast, when I am hon­est­ly myself and you respond to me as I am in that moment, I can receive this ful­ly and know the sat­is­fac­tion of being real­ly relat­ed with you. This hon­est relat­ing is not always joy­ful or pleas­ant — it is some­times sad, some­times angry, etc. — but it is always sol­id and real and vital­ly alive.

I first tried to read Rad­i­cal Hon­esty sev­er­al years ago, when my friend Ron start­ed rav­ing about it. I could­n’t get through it. I checked out the book on tape and zoned out every time I start­ed to lis­ten to it. I sup­pose I was­n’t ready at that time.

I have been con­scious­ly try­ing to be more aware of my feel­ings when I expe­ri­ence them and to be more hon­est about them imme­di­ate­ly. I was­n’t being dis­hon­est about them before—but I’d real­ize a day or so after some­thing hap­pened that no, it was­n’t okay with me. And, hope­ful­ly, why. And I would­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly feel that it was impor­tant enough to go back and tell Sam about them, so he felt some­what sur­prised because I am speak­ing up more quick­ly now.

So I guess I am being more hon­est now. But I can’t real­ly say it’s because of the book, or that it’s nec­es­sar­i­ly radical.

Cur­rent Mood: 🤔thought­ful
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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